From Trewin's Exeter Flying Post
9 November 1864
The inhabitants of the usually quiet village of Ide were on Thursday morning thrown into a state of considerable consternation by the breaking out of a fire in some premises adjoining one of a row of cottages near the Dunchideock Road belonging to Mr. Azeal Copplestone. It is supposed that some person had thrown away hot ashes into a bin and some straw had ignited. Whatever may have been the cause, certain it was that a fire which threatened to be of a very serious character had originated.
A black feeding pig - more learned it would appear than many of its species - made the discovery and gave the alarm. The sty, or place in which the animal was confined, became unpleasantly warm, and the hair was singed on the pig's jaws. It cried in a piteous manner and some people were attracted to the spot. On letting the pig out, it ran as if possessed of an evil spirit down the garden and some time was occupied in its capture.
Meanwhile the villagers became sadly aware of the fact of the fire being more serious than was contemplated and sent a messenger on horseback to Exeter for the fire engines. The Norwich Union, the West of England and the Sun fire engines were speedily on the spot. the latter in the hurry to get there came in contact with a goods waggon near the railway bridge. The poor firemen shouted out lustily for the postillions to draw up and "took care of their legs" which, dangling by the side of the box, seemed to be in danger of amputation. After an exchange of civilities, the parties drove on amid the ironical applause of a host of men and boys in the rear who had enjoyed the "hitch".
On arriving at Ide, a sad scene presented itself. The flames had extended and the destruction of eight cottages, forming the row or detachment, was imminent. The poor people, chiefly labourers, their wives and in some instances, their children - were trying to shift a portion of their scanty furniture to neighbouring sheds or houses for safety, whilst their neighbours, men, women and girls, were hard at work fetching buckets of water from the pumps and wells and even out of the very gutters to enable them to stay the progress of the devouring element.
The engines were worked well, the principal drawback being the deficient supply of water and the bad quality of that which could be obtained. So strong and muddy was some of it that the pipes would not deliver it as it was desired that they should. Mr. Joseph Braddon, of Pines Barton, Mr. Matthew Milton, of The Drakes, and Mr. Wilcocks of Pengellys, lent valuable assistance in the provision of horses and carts and tubs to fetch up larger quantities of water than could be obtained on the ground adjoining.
The fire, which was noticed soon after nine o'clock, burnt vigorously until about one o'clock; it was then gradually subdued. The cottages burnt were eight in number - six were occupied by labouring men, one by a widow and one was empty. The property was insured in the West of England Fire Office. The Rev, G. T. Sharland, the resident clergyman, Mr. E. C. Walkey and Mr. James Copplestone of Canns Farm, kindly exerted themselves on behalf of the sufferers and were able to provide them with temporary places of abode. It may be observed that the thatch encouraged the fire very much, and moreover exposed the surrounding buildings to great danger. The Post Office, kept by Mr. Chaplain, was situated opposite, and had the wind been brisk, the straws, which flew about like lighted matches, would have speedily communicated the fire. The damage cannot be at present estimated. A subscription, we dare say, will be opened for these poor folk who have been burnt out.